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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 25, 2013 11:15am-12:01pm EDT

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the washington press: politics, prejudice, and persistence." the annual festival is hosted by the franklin did roosevelt presidential library of museum in hyde park, new york. this is about 45 minutes. >> good morning. my name is jeff urban, and education specialist at the roosevelt presidential library and museum and a map of the library and museum i would like to welcome all of you in our audience here today and those of you at home watching on c-span for the 10th annual roosevelt reading special. franzen was a plan for the library to become a premier research institution for the study of the entire roosevelt era. the library's research room a consistent one of the busiest of all the presidential libraries. this year's group of authors reflect the wide variety of research that's done you. let me quickly go over the format for the festival's concurrent session. at the top of each are a session begins with a 30 minute author talk. followed by a 10 minute question and answer pair. in the office move to the table
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in the lobby next to the new deal store where you can purchase the book and have them signed up at the top of the next hour the process repeats itself again. today's attendees of the lectures can visit the exciting new permanent exhibit over in the presidential labor and museum. free of charge. just as one of our staff members who are the admission buttons and the programs will be free to go over. also like to remind you that at the implement question and answer session please come up to the microphone so that we can get the question on the mic and we can answer that. now it's my pleasure to introduce thank you. she's the author of "women of the washington press: politics, prejudice, and persistence," which is the winner of the frank luther research award 2012. she is a professor of journalism at the university of maryland and the author of eleanor roosevelt, and "first ladies and the press." she is a co-author of taking the
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place, document history of women in journalism and coeditor of eleanor roosevelt encyclopedia. ladies and gentlemen as my pleasure to introduce maurine beasley. [applause] >> thank you so much. it's really great to be back at hyde park. this is a tremendous research facility. i'd like to express my appreciation to the roosevelt library and museum for inviting me to be here today, and to c-span for presenting this program. you may wonder how my book fits into the program. part of the research for it was certainly done here at the roosevelt library in and out of introduce my husband in the audience, hank, who is a great researcher and as always with me up there at the library. eleanor roosevelt is one of the
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dominating figures in the first portion of my book, "women of the washington press: politics, prejudice, and persistence." because all of these things are touched in the book, but we first, a portion of it, so much of this through the eyes of eleanor roosevelt and the women who covered her press conferences. of course, i start out with women in washington journalism way back in 1830. you may say, was there a woman in washington journalism been? you have, there was a notable if not notorious individual. so the book then moves through the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, up to today. when women probably constitute about half of the working journalists in the nation's capital. well, why concentrated
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washington women journalists? why not write a women journalists in general? because journalism in the nation's capital is so closely aligned to the political power structure of this country that it can be considered a testimony to the extent to which women have been able to break into what is traditionally a male preserve, male preserve of politics and journalism. so if we look at this group of washington women journalists we can sort of gauge how far women have come in both of these areas. now, how are women faring today? i'm not going to go into that, but i'd like to point out in this period when we are changing from printer oriented culture to digital culture and so forth, when very idea of journalism itself is being discussed and redefined, women are playing important roles, but they are
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still more likely than not to be working for male superiors. the roosevelt library helps chart the course of women in washington's journalism due to the extraordinary career of eleanor, who independent of many was the single most important woman of the mid-20th century. we think of her today as the pathbreaking first lady from 1933-1945, and then as a guiding spirit behind the universal declaration of human rights, when she served as u.s. representative to the united nations from 1945-1952. but we tend to forget that she was one of the most successful washington women journalists herself. in terms of her newspaper column, magazine articles, radio broadcasts ar and not to mention
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all of her paid speeches, when she was in the white house. equally important though, it's a sort of washington women journalists was her impact on other women in the field. that's what i'm going to talk about this morning. the ground cover in the first chapter of the book. now, i'll have to take that i've been working on this book for a very long time. it started with my dissertation many years ago at george washington university. and i had the opportunity to interview some of the women who actually attended these press conferences before they passed from the scene. therefore i think i do have some insights here into the way these parts -- press covers it went that would be of interest to us. the importance of the conference of which are often brushed off by people who write about eleanor, they say she held a press confidence for women only.
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the importance of them though has been overlooked. so i would like to ask some questions of you about eleanor as the focus point for women journalists in the capital of her day. i'd like to raise these questions. i'll elaborate on them and then i would like to hear your answers when we get to q&a. okay, questions? did these press conferences allow women journalists come and i should say newspaper women because that's what most of these women were. this was a very 1933, 1945 when newspapers are still the name of the journalism game, although radio is coming in, and there were movies there, but still newspapers were the same. this is a period when washington, d.c. have five daily
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newspapers. can you imagine? anyway, did these press conferences allow newspaper women to be admitted into the male culture of washington politics if only on a very marginal level? that's one question. the second question, do these press conferences, and eleanor roosevelt held 350 of them for women reporters while she was first lady, did they help eleanor and answer own journalism career through networking with other women? and a third question, to what extent do they facilitate opportunities for women to bond with each other and promote an alternative journalistic culture to the male dominated one that excluded them? and then there's an overreaching question, too, that i raised in
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the book, and i would love to your answers to, after we get to the q&a. did the conference is held or hurt the women professionally who covered th% hurt the women professionally who covered them? i'll tell you some of the reasons that people thought they heard women, and then some of the reasons that people thought they help them. and you can decide. first though, a step backwards to the first washington woman journalist of the 1830s who published to newspapers in the nation's capital from 1830-1854. one was named paul fry and the other was -- [inaudible]. ann was a tangent. she was impoverished widow who managed to get hold of some old
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off type it out a couple of boys from the orphanage to run the press for her and put out these newspapers. she was determined to have her say about what went on politically. she would latch onto members of congress as they entered the capital. and insisted they give for news items but if insisted they gives items but if they did she wrote nice things about them, and if they didn't, well, you can imagine. anyway, the story went around that she wants said on president john quincy adams close when he took his morning dip into the potomac. and refused to get up until he answered her question. now, historians say that never happened, but no less, a famous washington woman journalist, helen thomas, who unfortunately died just a few days ago, called it a wonderful legend when she
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spoke in 1990. thomas said she was glad that there was no rule against the quote irritating president with impotent questions. well, by the time frame when roosevelt was elected president, 1932, women journalists were no longer washington freaks, but few of them actually got close to a president. so that matter, a few were allowed to be in the same rule -- same room, the same sitting room with men reported. let's imagine ourselves back in an era when most women in journalism work in segregated quarters for what were called women and society pages. do any of you remember those? the newspapers dropping in the 1960s, go into lifestyle section. but anyway, these were
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segregated sections of the newspaper as they were segregated in terms of where the women were. they were not even allowed to be in the same room with men. in washington, these women were known as the green room group, probably after the green books list those washingtonians in society. a very small number had credentials to cover the president, and actually pay dues to the white house correspondents' association. but they were not allowed to go to dinner because they were women. it was some 30 years later that women members of the association actually were able to go to a dinner, which is the main thing itself, and helen thomas was elected to be the first woman president. so in this era now, the early 1930s when franklin roosevelt is elected president, you did have a handful of women like a
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clever feature writer from nebraska who worked for "the associated press," who is actually a credit to the capital press gallery. even then, their opportunities were limited. she was listed at the very bottom of the 36 ap representatives to the press galleries, and she was told she could cover only women members of congress. you can imagine how many folks there were. she said the ap man kept capitol hill quote as holy ground on which i was not to set foot without explicit orders. they wouldn't even let her go there. she knew she was fortunate to be employed at all. the united press, then the aps chief rival, refused to hire anyone. so when eleanor roosevelt announced she would hold press covers us for women reporters
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only, the ud was compelled to hire ribby black, a phi beta kappa graduate of the university of texas. lacked, start her own news bureau in washington and had a hard time hunting of clients found eleanor a welcome change from her first lady predecessor, lou henry hoover. mrs. hoover had state so far away from the press that black had been forced to bribe a male colleague to reveal some details of mrs. hoover's daily schedule so blac black could write an are for women's magazine. and the male colleague who's bribed and had to snoop around among the secret service men and report back to black. similarly, firm and had to resort to dressing up in a girl scout uniform and sneaking into the white house. to cover a christmas party that
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mrs. hoover gave for a scout troop. you can see that the idea of eleanor meeting openly with women journalists was very welcome to a good number of these washington women. .. as what goes on politically in the legislative national life and also what the social and
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personal life is at the white house. now, it must have been so gratifying for these women who were paid less than male journalists and generally looked down on actually to be told that they were important and had a political role in washington which is a place that revolves around politics and power. now, to be sure eleanor told them she could not comment on political topic is that will be present as to permit. the idea for the press conferences came from the top associated press woman political reporter. an intimate friend of eleanor. the successful 1932 presidential campaign. described as a rotund lady with a husky voice put -- back you
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close who has gone along -- come around a lot with first ladies. he did not like her. forced to give up through reportorial career because of her closeness to eleanor. historians disagree on the exact nature of their relationship, but letters of endearment which are here at the library exchanged between the to testify to their closeness and the some physical intimacy. according to a eleanor's autobiography. suggested the press coverage is. the caucus and went to work directly for the roosevelt administration as an undercover team of undercover investigator a police attendees never attended press conferences but
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often stayed at the white house when she was in washington and probably council eleanor on the. now, as i said, i had the good fortune of talking to some of these women who actually attended the press conference years ago. according to mary hornet's day of the christian science monitor, of woman who was so capable that she was given the highest praise possible, she wrote like a man. @booktv anyway, they told me that she she persuaded mrs. roosevelt that everything that she did was new. certainly at these press conferences alomar was going to all kinds of detail about her personal life. she would tell the women, yes, i'd like to have facials. yes, i like to go horseback riding. yes, i do this. yes, i do that.
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dorothy dukakis, another woman i had the good fortune to talk to cover these press conferences for the international news service said that she tried to guide eleanor on how to handle herself. she said that, kirk tried to makers say the wise things, that the impulse of funds. mrs. roosevelt had a tendency to ramble on and, indeed, these press conferences went for an hour, hour-and-a-half. these women chatted among themselves. as a group the women covered up by not reporting comments they did nothing suitable to prince. now, why would the shield her from adverse publicity? because they did not want the conference is to end. they like him. the first conference produced little news. eleanor would allow ourself to be quoted directly in only one sentence, the time is one that
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requires courage and common sense on everyone's part, a reference to the anxiety gripping the nation in the great depression. well, this is hardly a startling assertion. and it resulted in a modest 1-column headline on a brief story buried deep inside the new york times. itsy, the press conference had been a great success, and judging by a picture taken at the second press conference on march the 18th 1933 and ordered by thurman of the associated press. but this picture then became a bit of an embarrassment. it showed roosevelt seated in the chair. the female reporters clustered around. some are standing up, but others are sitting at her feet. a male reporter scoffed, targeting the women as eleanor incense burners.
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holiday said the storm reflected prejudice against women in general. franklin himself made a joke about the newspaperwoman seated at his wife's seat. clifford berryman, noted cartoonist for the old washington star newspaper drew a caricature of the conferences, and i think for years it was the library museum exhibit, i don't know if it is still out or not, but now black countered this by publishing a comment that mrs. roosevelt's without ever mentioning it to put it into the crack of the columnist by giving orders to the white house that chairs be provided for all who attended the meetings. ziff the sixth set -- she west
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the conference produced more hard news. writing her journalism's for the publication, black said the first lady would speak in generalities. social concerns. to the mundane quality of the announcement, her social schedule, the places she was doing. we know she is tremendously energetic and a great traveler. shell oil said plenty to say about her personal schedule. she offered feature material now male journalists gave the conference's more respect after the roosevelt administration decided that element, not fact she releases on may 3rd.
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still in the white house now eleanor had discussed this subject in advance with mark this rare of the old washington daily news who, like thurman black, or 92 in extent and others have become a member of the into press conference circled. advising on statements. stare advised eleanor to hand out a carefully sought out statement along with a carefully worded expression of hope that the change would contribute to temperance. while eleanor excepted the suggestions, she did not follow
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the recommendation to deal only with the announcement by ellis traded of the quality of the conferences. she took questions on other subjects as varied. what were you going to wear, the sort of thing. i must move on here. there's a lot more we could say about these press conferences. they continued to draw reporters. by 1939 there were over 130 women accredited to these press conferences. although the number was cut drastically during world war ii when the women formed mrs. roosevelt's press conference the association. a few women, a peppery, feminist correspondence who was close to the press conference in a circle five men should be admitted on
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grounds of fairness. eleanor said no, claiming and would force her to encroach on my husband's side of the news. no, i must move on here because our time is running short. of want to bring up the question, did these press conferences in hansel and was on career as a journalist. well, we know that she started writing her most famous journalistic endeavor, the my day, at the end of 1935. it continued almost up until the day she died in 1962 found there were the professionals. there were willing to overlook it were to write about it positively. but as time went on, this column became very important. it was one of the most widely
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syndicated columns of the day. eleanor make money at it. the women go a little bit jealous. for example, the press conference group was rather annoyed when she used the might a column to break stories that otherwise might have come out in the press conference. such as a resignation from the daughters of the american revolution over its refusal to let the african american singer give a concert to in its constitution hall. called the column very naive, but today we would call it a blog with an emphasis on where eleanor went and what she did a written in a chatty, informal style. horner date sought mainly as a reflection that eleanor's desire
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to make money and resented it when she wrote her column competing with us. well, 12 years and illinois press conferences continued to draw of these women eager to gain access to the white house. detractors said they weakened the status of women journalists because they encouraged dependence on one source, eleanor. she was really pretty careful in what she said to these women and also she would stipulate that they not say a certain thing. for example, franklin was running for reelection in 1936. she told the women she did not want to talk about anything related to birth control that had come up at these conferences because that was a politically volatile also object. she became known as roosevelts apologists, left the united press, obtained a government
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position with alan ourself but did not work out, suffered from alcoholism, mental problems, and data fire. on the other hand, eventually hired by the new york times washington bureau and wrote in her autobiography that she had hitched my wagon to a star. and the star was eleanor roosevelt. eleanor continued to help. less needy, perhaps, than ready black. she got help from eleanor, but not in such an obvious way. now, let me end with this. after eleanor left washington, following franklin's death in 1945 it must be remembered that eleanor had made quite a lot of money. for example, i have here illinois earnings in the white house years. this is based upon a study of
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her income tax returns which are available here in hyde park library. it showed that from the year 1937 to 1939, for example, she had average net annual earnings of $62,000. that's a lot of money in those days. net earnings. 60,000. so these women never wrote things about eleanor. well, she's using her position to enhance yourself. if instead, they covered up -- covered up that kind of thing because they did feel somewhat grateful to her for allowing them to come to the white house every week. it was made greg, the one who had first asked that mindy allow them and been told that that was not going to happen outlawing
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sex discrimination. any -- 81 year-old howard w. smith, a conservative virginia congressman sought to stop passage of major civil rights legislation by adding the word sex to the title seven. which originally a lot of the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. he hopes a radical -- ridiculed the proposed legislation to death but the judge backfired. maytag the measure the maker amendment. after all that had been great to have pushed for years to have restaurant facilities. adjacent to the national press galleries for the fino reporters who were accredited to the press
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galleries. the closest bathrooms were weighed down the hall, and women had to run down several flights of stairs, that kind of thing, just to use the restaurant. now, was greg supported by other washington women in this endeavor? not particularly. other female journalists thought it was on ladylike, unseemly to mention such subjects. greg was pretty much out there by herself on alan. therefore that was one of the reasons that the capitol hill insiders tax the measure them a crack amendment in honor of craigslist views. at this point, 1964, craig, who was known for her point -- the main newspapers, are funny hat, maybe some of you may remember, it was one of the few women to be a regular guest on the public affairs program meet the press.
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passage of the amendment outlawing sex discrimination was assured when senator herbert humphrey of minnesota told a meet the press audience in answer to a question from greg that the democratic leaders in congress had decided to accept the amendment. so at this .1 can say that, perhaps, eleanor would have been extremely pleased that a member of her press conference circled succeeded in so widening opportunities for women journalists. thank you. [applause] >> this is about women and men in journalism today.
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i have been concerned about the increasing partisan politics that have come into print journalism as well as tv journalism. i wonder if this really is new, has it always been as bitter and vicious as it yesterday? and is it possible for a journalist to have a career today and be neutral, present the facts, and the more traditional in the way they are presenting the news? >> i will be happy to try to comment on that. no, i think it is a new development. certainly in the day of eleanor roosevelt. these press conferences were not controversial. they did not ask pointed questions. are you using your position to earn money, using your name to sell things that no one would buy otherwise? they would have considered that rude. nobody asked eleanor about the rumor that was floated around the capitol that franklin had an
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affair. those things just were not mentioned. what has happened in recent times, i think, is a result of the fragmentation of the audience and the increasing demands of the 24-hour a new cycle that we have with the cable television and with the digital media, the emphasis on getting everything past, twitter and so forth. people are no longer so interested in the objectivity and accuracy. they are interested in terms of being journalists in getting ahead by being ag, by being out there, you know, being talked about, getting attention. also, there is a fine line between entertainment and journalism. journalists were supposed to be people who actually got a facts and presented those facts to the
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public. the public no longer seems very interested in fact. it seems to be interested in having media reports from those two have the same biases that they do. so i think it is a recent development. it very disturbing one which we would give back to an age in which facts were consensual the validated statements, but says they're seems to be less of a public consensus these days on things, it makes it very difficult to reach such an agreement. [inaudible question] >> if you already got into this, but i'm curious about fdr rule in relationship to eleanor and her relationship to the press, both through press conferences and other activities.
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to what degree did fdr either directly or through a press secretary or someone else on the white house staff attempts to play a role tactfully or otherwise in monitoring and screening what eleanor was doing? obviously she could be a great political asset to him in the administration, but one false step could cause a great deal of damage. how active in the middle of everything else he had to do was the president in relation to his wife's press activities? >> that is an excellent question. thank you for asking it. he was quite active. yes. he supported the press conferences. louis, his political guiding genius supported the press conferences. his press secretary had a big hand in deciding who got in and he did not get an. actually, no african-american women got in because the african americans were not admitted to the president's press conference
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and he really did not want any african american women admitted to the illinois press conference either. there were kept out on grounds that they represented weekly newspapers, not daily newspapers actually, that was just a ploy to maintain segregation. definitely the white house of these press conferences as a political asset for franklin. after all, look at the relationship between franklin roosevelt and the newspapers of the time. the reporters, individual reporters like the roosevelt, the people who read the newspapers did not. one of the members of the illinois and a circle at the press conferences was a woman named mlb who was the main woman writer for the new york "herald" tribune which is a leading republican newspaper. this newspaper pose to franklin. here she is writing all of these nice features about the roosevelt family in the white
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house, going through the red hot -- white house living quarters. she furnished things with their pieces. that sort of thing. i think franklin definitely realized that these press conferences help him reach women who were voters. he also had absolutely no objection to eleanor writing her my a column, the ones offered to write it for her. she refused. it was her thing. he talked of the column by telling the man. there were few women. sieges rates a diary. and it was what we today would consider a blog. but think how it humanize the presidency. franklin, as hard as he was, realize that. let me read you this quote from the first column, dec. 301st
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1935. right about yourself and the white house. the house was full of young people. my husband had a cd andas bed having to post for his supper. i said a politeig to everybody. at 730 and closed my door, let my fire, and settled d a nice long evening by myself. well, doesn't that give you a nice picture of life in the white house? certainly does not tell you about the opposing political factions in the white house itself. so franklin was very supportive of her efforts. she was careful not to do things that would upset and. [inaudible question]
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>> u.s. >> he did not have a strong genius and advancing. ahead of him if you want to put it that way, and awaited he was not always happy about. >> to think that's very true. to what degree she used these press conferences to advance the liberal causes and to what degree she used my day to do that was within the context of a wife speaking out. roosevelt could laugh it off by saying that is just my missus. of course there was the prevailing ideology that women are supposed to be better than men, so it is all right for them to be more moral. eleanor went around visiting day care centers and having her picture taken with a lot of african americans at a time when the segregationists in the south objected to that greatly.
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certainly that helped the roosevelt coalition in the northern cities where the african americans were voting. and so franklin, although he did not attack the southern segregationists in congress because he had to work with them still could make use of the eleanor's interest in civil rights to attract a liberal constituency. so there were all these countervailing currents. [inaudible question] >> hello. i think we all know that journalists, very important in society, civilized society. they are to bring to the people what is happening, where, what,
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and win objectively. but today with the internet we have the rise of the citizen journalists. and sometimes they don't give it objectively. so what do we, readers, do in this psittacine journalism? >> well, that is a very good question. how do you maintain some semblance of finding and formation that is correct and accurate? i can only answer that. i wish i could give a really good answer, but i can only answer by saying that in a lot of universities, including the one that i have worked for many years, there is an increasing interest on providing course work and media literacy and will give people some idea, at least while they are in school, of how
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to find accurate sources of information. and let's students understand that not everything is fine and the internet is valuable information. [applause] >> thank you very much. >> visit to watch any of the programs you see here on line. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and select in the format. book tv strands live online for 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. >> you are watching book tv on c-span2. here is our prime-time lineup for tonight. beginning at 7:00 p.m. eastern, we hear from simon.
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>> up next on book tv, "after words" with guest host josef
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sorett, assistant professor of religion at columbia university. this week joshue dubler and his latest book "down in the chapel: religious life in an american prison". he experiences a week in the lives of christian and muslim prisoners to make their way through the graterford prison chapel. he discusses the place of religion and rehabilitation and incarceration. the program is about an hour. >> good afternoon. so does not have a conversation with you. what might be seen as an opportune moment. this is the year where there has been much discussion, different sorts of the place of presence in american society in the contemporary moment, i think, in particular on one hand of michele alexander is the new jim crow.
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